Virtually Onboarding and Supporting Adult Students in College Using Web 2.0 Technologies

Virtually Onboarding and Supporting Adult Students in College Using Web 2.0 Technologies

Pamela M. Golubski (Carnegie Mellon University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61692-906-0.ch062
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Abstract

The transition to college is a difficult time for most students. Students experience changes in interpersonal and social adjustment, academic and career concerns, as well as personal change (Bishop, Gallagher, & Cohen, 2000). For adult learners this transition can be further complicated by working full-time and family responsibilities. Thus, failure of any student to not successfully adjust and acclimate into his or her new college community can greatly affect the student’s persistence and academic success (Tinto, 1993). While most colleges offer a short term in-person orientation to help new traditional-aged students integrate into a college campus, adult students are often left without an option. Though, an alternative method of orienting, acclimating, and supporting adult learners might be realized through the use of virtual and Web 2.0 technologies. Through this method, college staff and faculty members can onboard adult students to campus by virtually interacting, advising, communicating, and supporting them. Additionally, a virtual onboarding program can encourage adults to socialize with their peers and be acclimated to campus support services and offices, in an effort to increase a student’s social integration and interaction, academic preparation and success, and college adjustment.
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Introduction

Today, approximately 58 percent of students who enter a four-year institution will persist to earn bachelor degrees within six years (U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2009). The failure to retain students is often attributed to the lack of opportunities to encourage and allow students to successfully adjust and acclimate into their college community, regardless if it is a brick and mortar or a virtual campus (Tinto, 1993).

While most colleges offer a short term in-person orientation in an effort to help new traditional-aged students adjust, integrate, and orient into college; adult learners are often left out of the equation. The rational might be that adult students do not have the time to commit to attending an in-person orientation due to balancing lives complicated by full-time employment and families. However, in an effort to serve traditional-aged students and adult learners alike, an alternative method to in-person orientation and student support services might be realized by utilizing virtual and Web 2.0 technologies. Orientation is essential in that it provides students with social interaction and integration between classmates, staff and faculty members, as well as introduces students to available student support offices and services.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Google Groups: A free service offered by Google that allows those with similar interests to form a virtual group the supports such communication as threaded discussions, postings, document sharing, and e-mails.

Adult Learner: A student who is age 24 years or older when he/she enrolling in an institute of higher education as an undergraduate student.

Attrition: The term used to describe students who drop out or leave an educational institution.

Web 2.0: The Internet’s second generation of innovative applications and networks that allow a user to read, write, and publish to the web to creative content, share information, and collaborate among users. The most popular examples of Web 2.0 technologies include wikis, weblogs, podcasting, video and audio sharing, social networking, social book marking and messaging, folksonomies, and RSS feeds.

Pre-Orientation: A program of specialized activities that a higher education institution organizes to orient, acclimate, socialize, and welcome new college students to campus prior to the start of the semester. Pre-orientation usually occurs during the summer before a student arrives on campus for the start of classes. The format is usually offered through a virtual or online venue.

Skype: Free software that allows users to communicate in real-time (asynchronous) by text, voice, and/or video with the help of an Internet connection, computer, microphone, and/or webcam.

Threaded Discussion: A chronological listing of users’ electronic comments or discussions that are grouped according to common themes or topics, which are called threads. Users can reply to a particular posting within a thread and each posting has the potential to build off those submitted prior.

Twitter: A Web 2.0 technology that combines social networking and micro-blogging to allow users to send and read posts (Tweets) that are not greater than 140 characters in lengthen.

Onboarding: The process a corporation or company uses to successfully orient, acclimate, and integrate new employees into an organization’s culture, mission, workforce, and environment.

Facebook: A Web 2.0 technology that allows users to create a personal profile in an effort to establish, develop, and maintain a network of friends and groups.

Orientation: A program of specialized in-person activities that a higher education institution organizes to orient, acclimate, socialize, and welcome new college students to campus that usually occurs before the first week of classes begin during the fall semester.

Traditional-Aged Student: A student who is age 18 to 23 years old and enrolled in a higher education institution immediately following graduating from high school.

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